Open main menu



First attested in the early 15th Century. From Middle English absolven, from Latin absolvere, present active infinitive of absolvō (set free, acquit), from ab (away from) + solvō (loosen, free, release).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /əbˈzɒlv/
  • (US) IPA(key): /æbˈzɑlv/, /æbˈsɑlv/, /əbˈzɑlv/, /əbˈsɑlv/
  • (file)


absolve (third-person singular simple present absolves, present participle absolving, simple past and past participle absolved)

  1. (transitive) To set free, release or discharge (from obligations, debts, responsibility etc.). [First attested around 1350 to 1470.][1]
    You will absolve a subject from his allegiance.
    • 1855, Thomas Babington Macaulay, The History of England from the Accession of James II, volume III:
      Halifax was absolved by a majority of fourteen.
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To resolve; to explain; to solve. [Attested from the late 15th century until the mid 17th century.][1]
  3. (transitive) To pronounce free from or give absolution for a penalty, blame, or guilt. [First attested in the mid 16th century.][1]
  4. (transitive, law) To pronounce not guilty; to grant a pardon for. [First attested in the mid 16th century.][1]
    • 1807, w:Alexander Pope, The Odyssey by Homer (English translation):
      Absolves the just, and dooms the guilty souls.
  5. (transitive, theology) To grant a remission of sin; to give absolution to. [First attested in the mid 16th century.][1]
  6. (transitive, theology) To remit a sin; to give absolution for a sin. [First attested in the late 16th century.][1]
    • 1782, Edward Gibbon, History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, volume VI:
      In his name I absolve your perjury and sanctify your arms.
  7. (transitive, obsolete) To finish; to accomplish. [Attested from the late 16th century until the early 19th century.][1]
  8. (transitive) To pass a course or test; to gain credit for a class; to qualify academically.

Usage notesEdit

  • (to set free, release from obligations): Normally followed by the word from.
  • (to pronounce free from; give absolution for blame): Normally followed by the word from.


Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 “absolve” in Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors, The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2002, →ISBN, page 9.





  1. third-person singular (ele and ela, also used with você and others) present indicative of absolver
  2. second-person singular (tu, sometimes used with você) affirmative imperative of absolver